- Aerocare provides detail of low injury rates and strong safety culture
- Australian airport authorities and Aerocare confirm that claims of employee sleeping “camps” are totally without foundation
- The ABC acknowledges fundamental errors in the story broadcast on the 7.30 Report on 20 March 2017
- TWU makes misleading statements during Enterprise Bargaining Agreement negotiations
- At Aerocare, split shifts are available at the employee’s option and have been supported by 97% of the Company’s employees
- Key employee ballot to approve the latest EBA to will begin this Saturday with management confident of strong support
As part of a calculated campaign by the Transport Workers Union (“TWU”) initiated in the lead-up to an employee vote to adopt a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (“EBA”), Aerocare has been questioned by the ABC on the Company’s injury performance in recent years.
Aerocare confirms that it has one of the lowest, if not the lowest, injury frequency and severity in the industry. Aerocare employees are, on average, over three times less likely to lose time to injury than peers employed elsewhere in the sector under Safe Work Australia’s own definition.
Although not typically published, for the sake of transparency, Aerocare provides below its audited workcover injury data as proof of its excellent track record.
In 25 years of handling more than a million flights, the Company has never had a penalty imposed on it by a workcover entity, underscoring that there is no basis for suggesting that the culture and work practices of the Aerocare are unsafe.
To the contrary, the business is regularly audited and awarded on its achievements and record. Aerocare’s overall lost-time injury frequency rate (using Safe Work Australia’s definition) for the current financial year is <1 incident per million hours worked, which is an outstanding result, particularly in a complex industrial environment like an airport where incidents can and do happen.
As regards Sydney International, which has been the focus of much attention, the Company affirms an overall low injury rate recorded for Aerocare employees, with zero major injuries where lost-time was above 7 days recorded for that port in the current financial year, and only four in total since January 2015.
During this period a total of over 650 employees were part of the overall Sydney International workforce and collectively serviced over 12,000 flights. Reflective of this strong performance, the Company’s NSW workcover insurance premium is in line with the national average rate.
CLAIMS OF SLEEPING “CAMPS” AT AIRPORTS DEBUNKED
On Monday 3rd April, Australian airport authorities, alongside Aerocare, confirmed that claims of employee sleeping “camps” at airport facilities were totally without foundation.
The Company provided the results of an extensive investigation into recent disturbing media footage of improvised sleeping arrangements, allegedly within one of its airport areas, having worked in parallel with Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth airports to conduct the investigation.
Aerocare Chief Executive Glenn Rutherford said: “All parties confirmed explicitly to Aerocare that after careful inspection and review of footage and records nothing was found to substantiate the existence of “camps” where people are sleeping on site or any similar practices at any of these locations.
Aerocare and Sydney Airport have also reviewed all their records over the last three years and were only able to uncover a single instance, in April 2016, of personal belongings being left against policy in an unauthorised area of the airport.”
ABC ACKNOWLEDGES FUNDAMENTAL ERRORS IN STORY
The ABC has clarified several errors in the story broadcast on the 7.30 on 20 March 2017, which contained misleading and sensationalist reporting about working conditions at Aerocare. An acknowledgement was posted on the ABC’s website on 5 April 2017 (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-05/aerocare-pty-ltd/8419082).
The ABC admitted that a key person who appeared on 7.30 had misrepresented himself as an Aerocare employee.
The program introduced George Orsaris as a whistle-blower who was “risking his job to speak out publically.”
In fact, Mr Orsaris only worked at Aerocare for two months in the first half of 2016 and has since been employed by an Aerocare competitor.
He was a trainee in the catering truck segment of the business, which has no involvement with the baggage areas that he spoke about whilst 7.30 concurrently showed images of purported employee sleeping “camps,” which have themselves been thoroughly disproven after a full investigation involving Australian airport authorities.
The ABC correction also concedes that 7.30 Report misrepresented footage as showing an Aerocare worker sleeping in a luggage container. The ABC now confirms that the person shown was not an employee of Aerocare.
When combined with the results of the parallel investigations that have rejected the “camp” allegations, confirmations that the safety incidents raised on the program were not considered risks by the regulator mean the errors conceded by 7.30 leave the entire story with no credibility.
Subsequent to the initial episode the ABC has continued to put various unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations to Aerocare based upon hearsay of former employees and a TWU delegate. Aerocare has provided strong rebuttal and detailed and factual responses to all claims, including unsubstantiated generalized attacks on Aerocare’s document management procedures and audit processes.
Aerocare reaffirms that its practices are regularly audited by regulators and customers and strongly refutes any claims that its systems and processes are in any way deficient, as evidenced by the Company’s outstanding 25 year track record.
INTENTIONALLY MISLEADING STATEMENTS BY TWU DURING EBA NEGOTIATIONS
Aerocare has called out the TWU for making misleading statements during Enterprise Bargaining Agreement negotiations.
Employees working more than one shift in a day (“split shifts”) occurs regularly in the aviation industry in Australia, and elsewhere in the world, given that rosters are determined by fluctuating flight schedules and aircraft turn-around times.
Many Aerocare competitors and other industry participants allow for and engage in split shifts in their rostering. Split-shifting is also common in the hospitality and transport industries.
At Aerocare, split shifts are only provided at the employee’s option and have been supported by 97% of the company’s employees in the last EBA.
Aerocare Chief Executive, Glenn Rutherford said the TWU was involved in a calculated campaign with regard to the availability of split shifts.
As part of that campaign the TWU has claimed that Aerocare is the “only aviation company whose agreement allows for split shifts, which is specifically excluded under the award.”
Mr Rutherford said: “This is a dishonest statement. The TWU itself has endorsed enterprise agreements that include split shifts for its competitors, including Skystar, which is a subsidiary of UK giant Menzies Aviation.”
ENTERPRISE BARGAINING BALLOT
The key employee ballot to approve the latest EBA, which includes a four hour minimum shift, will commence this Saturday and will obviously provide the best possible proof as to how Aerocare’s entire labour force views wage and overall employment conditions.
Management are confident of strong support, as with the last vote, and note that they are increasing wage conditions and other benefits at a time that competitors are publicly confirming an intention to cut back.
Media Contacts: Peter Brookes, 0407 911 389 or Helen McCombie 0411 756 248 – Citadel-MAGNUS
Note: This release clarifies earlier language linking Border Force to parallel investigations conducted independently by Australian airport authorities and Aerocare. Australian Border Force did not conduct a special investigation into the sleeping “camp” claims but they do routinely patrol and carefully monitor all relevant airport areas to ensure security and customs regulations are strictly adhered to.